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McCutchen says he's not 100 percent, but 'good enough' to play

| Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, 6:39 p.m.
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Andrew McCutchen hits a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning against the Brewers on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE — Andrew McCutchen appeared to take his time going around the bases after hitting a ninth-inning home run Sunday against Francisco Rodriguez, raising concerns about aggravation of the damage to his rib cartilage.

McCutchen concedes he's not completely healthy, but he believes he's healthy enough.

“Well, I'm definitely not 100 percent,” McCutchen said. “I think that's obvious, but I'm good enough to hit a home run in the ninth against their closer.”

McCutchen was asked if his pain has increased or decreased in playing with the injury now for just less than a week.

“It's good enough to play. It's good enough to swing,” said McCutchen, who homered twice over the weekend. “That's probably how it's going to be the rest of the season. It's going to be good enough.”

Said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle: “He's OK. I think there are times when it might tug or grab a little … and we encourage him to take it easy. He said: ‘I'm OK. It's every once in a while I feel something.' And that was earlier before the last at-bat. There's still some strength there.”

Alvarez could return to 3rd in ‘15

While he likely will be relegated to sharing first base for the rest of this season, Pedro Alvarez said last week he “absolutely” considers himself a third baseman in the long term. Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday he also would like to see Alvarez slide back across the diamond next season.

“We'll certainly revisit it after the season,” Huntington said. “You have a guy that is capable of hitting .250 with 36 home runs and 100 RBIs and playing adequate defense (at third). For an organization to have (that asset), we are not ready to close the door on that long term.”

Huntington said the club has begun to put together an offseason plan to help Alvarez overcome his throwing woes. If Alvarez could return to third base, it would allow the club to employ Josh Harrison as a utility player, strengthening the club's depth and flexibility.

Can Alvarez bust out of platoon?

Alvarez earned a second straight start at first base Sunday, the first time he has started consecutive games at the position. Can Alvarez end the three-way platoon with a hot bat?

“Time will tell,” Hurdle said. “We are going to put the best team on the field every day.”

Hurdle is juggling Gaby Sanchez, Ike Davis and Alvarez in the starting lineup at first base. Alvarez has something neither Sanchez or Davis possess: elite power potential.

“You hope it's a flash of things to come,” Huntington said of Alvarez's two-homer game Saturday. “In a perfect world, you'd love for someone to step up and carry the load.”

The Pirates are 63-30 when Alvarez hits a home run in his career.

Trade winds

Huntington said the club continues to be aggressive in making waiver claims leading up to the Aug. 31 deadline, when players who clear waivers can be traded and are eligible to be added to a postseason roster.

“You have some (teams) the last couple of years that have waited to the last week to (send players through), and that's where we got Marlon Byrd a year ago,” Huntington said. “We are about to hit that final wave: those clubs that weren't sure if they were in or out and held onto their players.

“It could be an active period,” Huntington said. “I don't have a feel for if we'll get someone or not, but it won't be from a lack of claiming.”

Pimentel struggles in outing

Stolmy Pimentel was not impressive in his rehab outing Saturday, walking three and allowing a hit in a third of an inning for Double-A Altoona.

“Command wasn't efficient. Had a bunt play to make, didn't make it,” Hurdle said. “He threw 25 pitches, and it wasn't an efficient outing.”

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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